I spent time walking the streets of Portland, Ore., with my friend Joe, who was planting a church. I watched Joe connect with many people who didn’t seem like they would walk into a church.
Instead of taking offense at their lifestyle or language, Joe didn’t flinch. He looked into their eyes and engaged them in meaningful conversation.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we all flinch sometimes. We react in judgment when others look different, or we view their sin as worse than our own. When we flinch, we reinforce shame and miss the opportunity to build a relationship and show the love of God.
Jesus didn’t flinch when He ministered to an outcast Samaritan woman (John 4:7-10), invited a tax collector to follow Him (Matt. 9:9), showed mercy to a woman caught in sin (John 8:10-11) or gave hope to a dying thief (Luke 23:39-43). Jesus looks deeper to love people without compromising the truth. He knows everything we do and think, and all our sins—yet, He doesn’t flinch. Instead, He offers us love, acceptance and forgiveness at great cost: His own life. Jesus compels us to look past offenses and extend the same grace to others.
How will you get outside your normal circle to engage and extend God’s grace to those who normally might cause you to flinch? Remember to “judge not” (Matt. 7:1, NKJV), and share the Good News with all you meet.
Prayer + Reflection
- Think about the things that cause you to flinch when you encounter others. Why do you think those things make you uncomfortable? How do you think Jesus would interact with the same people? Ask Him to share His heart with you whenever you meet new people.
- How does God’s grace change the way you see others? Accept His grace as an imperfect person, and ask Him to help you see others as He does.
- Pray about how you can personally extend God’s grace to those around you.
- As we approach our national election, and early voting has begun, let’s pray that the church would be led in our civic engagement by principles of the kingdom of God and a spirit of discernment.
Share your thoughts. See comments below, and add your own.